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Weekly 2019 Legislative Session report

Beth Lyons

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The Alabama Legislature met for Day 22 of its annual Regular Session on Tuesday, May 21. Thirty-nine committee meetings were held throughout the week to consider legislation. Both Houses met on Wednesday, May 22 and Thursday, May 23 for Days 23 and 24.

1,068 bills have been introduced to date.

With current plans to end the Session this coming week, the Legislature will return to Montgomery on Tuesday, May 28 for Day 25 of the Session with the House convening at 2:00 p.m. and the Senate at 3:30 p.m.

SIGNIFICANT DURING THE WEEK:

The Senate proposed Constitutional Amendment that would establish a paper lottery failed to survive a procedural vote in the House that would have allowed for a vote on the bill [SB220 by Senator Greg Albritton].

The Senate substituted and passed the 2.1 billion General Fund Budget which includes increases to the Department of Corrections, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA), the Department of Mental Health, a significant decrease to Medicaid (which will be partially offset by carried over funds), and no funding for Medicaid expansion. The bill was returned to the House for action on the Senate substitute. The House non-concurred and a conference committee of House and Senate members was appointed to work out the differences [HB152 by Representative Steve Clouse].

Along with the General Fund Budget, the Senate passed a House bill that would provide for a cost-of-living increase for state employees beginning October 1, 2019. The pay bill now goes to the Governor [HB166 by Representative Dimitri Polizos].

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The House Ways and Means Education Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to the Senate passed $7.1 billion Education Trust Fund Budget. The budget is a 7 percent increase over the $6.6 billion budget passed last year for the current fiscal year. The pre-K program received the largest increase (30 percent) [SB199 by Senator Arthur Orr]. The committee also gave a favorable report to the bill that provides for a 4 percent pay raise for K-12 employees [SB192 by Senator Orr]. The bills are now pending action by the full House.

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The House Education Policy Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate proposed Constitutional Amendment that would rename the State Board of Education as the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education and provide for 9 members appointed by the Governor, subject to confirmation of the Senate, instead of 8 members being elected by the voters. Among the duties of the new Commission would be the establishment of course study standards in lieu of common core. The bill now goes to the full House [SB397 by Senator Del Marsh].

The House substituted and passed a bill that would require a physician to exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion. The bill is now pending in the Senate Healthcare Committee [HB491 by Representative Ginny Shaver].

SIGNIFICANT COMMITTEE ACTION THIS WEEK:

The House Agriculture and Forestry Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would require the Department of Agriculture and Industries to develop a plan for monitoring and regulating the production of hemp. The bill now goes to the full House [SB225 by Senator Tim Melson].

The Senate Judiciary committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would prohibit a person from holding or otherwise using his or her body to support a wireless communications device or standalone electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB404 by Representative K. L. Brown].

The Senate Judiciary Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would increase the number of years a person must be admitted to practice law before he or she can qualify to be appointed or elected to a circuit or district court judgeship. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB529 by Representative David Faulkner].

The House Ways and Means Education Committee substituted and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would expand the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Act which provides for grant funding for broadband in unserved areas of the state. The bill now goes to the full House [SB90 by Senator Clay Scofield].

The House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would provide for the operation of shared micromobility device systems and would require the consent of a county or municipality prior to the use of the system in the county or municipality. The bill now goes to the full House [SB312 by Senator Rodger Smitherman].

The Senate Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a House bill that would prohibit an employer from paying any of its employees at wage rates less than those paid to employees of another sex or race for equal work. The bill now goes to the full Senate [HB225 by Representative Adline Clarke].

The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee amended and gave a favorable report to a Senate bill that would exclude certain places or spaces for tent camping, marine slips and recreational vehicles from the state transient occupancy (lodging) tax. The bill now goes to the full House [SB308 by Senator Gerald Allen].

SIGNIFICANT FLOOR ACTION THIS WEEK:

The Senate substituted and passed a bill that would provide further for the exemptions of the Alabama Toll Road, Bridge and Tunnel Authority from state and local taxation. The bill is now pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [SB154 by Senator Chris Elliott].

The Senate amended and passed a House bill that would authorize the Secretary of State to establish procedures to allow a voter to be placed on a permanent absentee voter list upon proof of having a permanent disability. The bill now returns to the House for action on the Senate amendment [HB174 by Representative Victor Gaston].

The Senate amended and passed a House bill that would require county sheriffs and the Department of Corrections to provide feminine hygiene products for female prisoners under certain conditions. Following concurrence of the House in the Senate amendments, the bill now goes to the Governor [HB308 by Representative Rolanda Hollis].

The Senate carried over a House bill that would require municipal fire departments provide supplemental insurance coverage to pay the claims of a career firefighter who has served 12 consecutive months and has been diagnosed with cancer under certain conditions [HB360 by Representative Phillip Pettus].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would further provide for the process of issuing notice to pay a toll and would authorize the non-renewal of the vehicle registration for vehicles whose owners fail to pay the required toll and administration fees. The bill is now pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [SB347 by Senator David Sessions].

The Senate passed a bill that would authorize autonomous vehicles operated by an automated driving system under certain circumstances. The bill is now pending in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee [SB47 by Senator Gerald Allen].

The Senate substituted, amended and passed a House bill that would authorize the placement, construction, installation, operation and use of broadband and other advanced communication capabilities and related facilities within electric easements by electric providers. Following concurrence of the House in the Senate amendments, the bill now goes to the Governor [HB400 by Representative Randall Shedd].

The Senate amended and then carried over a House bill that would provide for the registration of certain fantasy sports operators, require the implementation of procedures for consumer protection, and exempt fantasy sports contests from the state prohibition against gambling [HB361 by Representative Kyle South].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would require a municipality to receive approval from the Alabama State Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) prior to being authorized to use automated traffic enforcement systems. The bill is now pending in the House Transportation, Utilities and Infrastructure Committee [SB348 by Senator Gerald Allen].

The Senate amended and passed a bill that would authorize local boards of education to sell advertising space on school buses. The bill is now pending in the House Education Policy Committee [SB411 by Senator Greg Reed].

The Senate passed a House bill that would extend the private hospital assessment and Medicaid funding program for fiscal years 2020, 2021 and 2022. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB176 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The Senate passed a House bill that would extend the current privilege assessment and supplemental privilege assessment imposed on each bed in a nursing facility through August 31, 2022. The bill now goes to the Governor [HB177 by Representative Steve Clouse].

The Senate passed a joint resolution to establish an Advanced Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Task Force charged with reviewing small wireless legislation passed in other states, the Federal Communication Commission’s orders on small cell facilities, and drafting proposed legislation for the 2020 Regular Session. The resolution now goes to the House [SJR by Senator Jabo Waggoner].

The House substituted, amended and passed a proposed Constitutional Amendment which would allow bail unless a person is charged with a capital offense or certain felonies. The bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [HB282 by Representative Chip Brown].

The House amended and passed a bill that would require a person convicted of a sex offense involving a person under the age of 13 to undergo chemical castration as a condition of parole. The bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee [HB379 by Representative Steve Hurst].

The House substituted and passed a bill that would require state colleges and universities to broadly protect all free speech rights of students and faculty and to pass policy statements to implement. The bill is now pending in the Senate Education Policy Committee [HB498 by Representative Matt Fridy].

The House substituted, amended and passed a bill that would allow a licensed wine manufacturer to obtain a wine direct shipper permit to ship directly to residents for personal use. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB350 by Representative Terri Collins].

The House amended and passed a bill that would provide additional penalties for criminal littering and include enhanced penalties for littering of certain items including cigarettes, cigars, containers of urine, and restaurant food containers. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB500 by Representative Margie Wilcox].

The House amended and passed a Senate bill that would allow public schools to offer elective courses focusing on the study of the Bible in grades 6 to 12 and allow for the display of artifacts, monuments, symbols, and texts related to the study of the Bible. The bill now returns to the Senate for action on the House amendments [SB14 by Senator Tim Melson].

The House amended and passed a Senate bill that would update the amnesty and class action provisions of the Simplified Sellers Use Tax (SSUT), clarify transactions for which the tax cannot be collected and remitted, and designate a portion of the county distribution to local boards of education. The bill now returns to the Senate for action on the House amendments [SB153 by Senator Tim Melson].

The House passed a Senate bill that would eliminate marriage licenses and establish a procedure for recording a marriage contract in Probate Court. The bill now goes to the Governor [SB69 by Senator Greg Albritton].

The House passed a bill that would require a child to successfully complete kindergarten before being admitted to the first grade in public elementary schools. The bill now goes to the Senate [HB423 by Representative Pebblin Warren].

The House carried over a Senate bill that would prohibit a municipality that does not already have an occupational tax from imposing an occupational tax unless the tax is authorized by local law [SB305 by Senator Jimmy Holley].

SIGNIFICANT INTRODUCTIONS THIS WEEK:

A bill was introduced in the Senate that would repeal Act No. 2019-189 (HB314) providing for criminal penalties for the performance of an abortion or attempted abortion. The bill is pending in the Senate Healthcare Committee [SB417 by Senator Vivian Davis Figures].

A bill was introduced in the House that would increase the amount paid to jurors as reimbursement for travel from $.05 per mile to $.58 per mile. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee [HB636 by Representative April Weaver].

A bill was introduced in the House that would increase the penalties for the crime of cockfighting. The bill is pending in the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee [HB640 by Representative John Rogers].

KUDOS TO A LOCAL ENTITY:

The Senate gave a favorable report to a House Joint Resolution naming the Dauphin Island Sea Lab as the official “Aquarium of Alabama.” The Resolution now awaits action of the Governor [HJR239 by Representative Chip Brown]. [The Dauphin Island Sea Lab was founded in 1971 to provide marine science programs for the state’s colleges and universities. It has expanded over the years to include K-12 education and professional development. The public aquarium opened in 1998.]

 

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